This the story of the Working Class and Labour Movement in Guelph, Ontario.

It is a tale of men, women and children working long hours for little pay.

When it comes to history, working class/labour history is often neglected. This is particularly true of communities that are not major metropolitans. Yet, even in large cities, exploring the subject can be difficult due to the lack of material. Economic depressions result in the disappearance of unions and their paperwork as well as the industries in which they worked.  Painstaking research is required to unearth even the slimmest of material.

Labouring All Our Lives does not focus on unions alone. It also examines the lives of workers – how they lived, where they lived, what they did to enjoy themselves. It looks at women’s work and child labour within the context of its time, and examines the legislation as it is applied in the various aspects of work. Accompanied by historical photographs as well as descriptions from local sources, the intent is and has always been to provide information that brings the working class to life. It is an attempt to educate anyone and everyone on how the working class lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a work that wants to explain and tell a story and reveal the ups and downs, hardships and triumphs – such overused words but applicable in this case, of the particular class of Guelphites. Overall, it is an attempt to capture the history of those who truly did labour all their lives.


Posts 09 October 2022 Norway Iron and Steel: An Experiment that Failed In 1894 William S. Patterson took his plans for a rolling mill to the Guelph Board of Trade. The following… Read More

Posts 03 August 2022 The Guelph Carriage Top Company: 1879 to 1923 The Guelph Carriage Top company was formed in 1879 when Christian Kloepfer and Charles Walker – a former… Read More

Posts 27 July 2022 I Want to Ride My Bicycle: The History of Bicycles in 19th and Early 20th Century Guelph During the recent pandemic, bicycles became increasingly popular. The demand was higher than the supply… Read More

Posts 16 June 2022 The Pipe Mill in the Ward: The Page-Hersey Tube Company In 1889, an American, Randolph Hersey (1829-1918) founded Page & Hersey Company in Montreal in partnership… Read More

Posts 13 June 2022 Libby, McNeill and Libby: Guelph’s Other Pickle Factory When people in Guelph talk about the “Pickle Factory,” they are referring to the Matthews-Wells factory… Read More

Posts 17 May 2022 Rowen-Ogg: Guelph’s Last Shoe Manufacturers The Rowen family was well known in Guelph for their boot and shoe store on Wyndham Street. Daniel R…. Read More

Posts 12 May 2022 The New Idea Spreader Company: Making Manure Spreading Easier Joseph Oppenheim (1859-1901), a schoolmaster in Maria Stein, Ohio invented what is referred to as the… Read More

Posts 05 April 2022 Making Felt in Guelph: The Story of the Lancashire Felt Company When it comes to Guelph industries, the Ward has been home to several well-known ones. People still remember… Read More

Posts 30 March 2022 Guelph’s Other Hat Companies: Fried-Grills and Jochimeck Drone When hats are mentioned in Guelph, everyone thinks about Biltmore Hats. While the position of this company… Read More

Posts 13 November 2021 No Relief From Relief: The Great Depression In Guelph During the last few years of the 1920s, Guelphites were beginning to feel quite optimistic. After the… Read More

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